30 Things I’ve Learned in 30 Years

Well, my friends, the day has finally arrived. This Wednesday, I will turn 30. Real adulthood. The big 3-0. Halfway between young adulthood and midlife. Too old for crop tops, too young for clogs (just kidding — I plan to keep wearing both).

I’m not going to pretend turning 30 isn’t at least a little momentous. After all, I’ve spent 10 years — an entire decade — as a 20-something. That’s 3,650 days. Approximately 520 weeks. 87,600 hours. These 10 years have been good to me, and I truly have cherished the earliest part of my adulthood.

I feel like I’ve spent my 20s inundated with articles and media specifically about the importance of one’s 20s. Heck, I’ve written some of them. We Millennials are fascinated with our youth. We live for ‘90s nostalgia. We spend our 20s — a decade that used to signify the beginnings of families and careers — simply having fun, getting to know ourselves and exploring what life has to offer. We take pride in our collective hesitation to get married and have children, and we never feel like we’re quite old enough to consider ourselves fully grown men and women.

The oldest Millennials were born around 1982, while the youngest of us were born closer to 1999 or 2000. Born in late 1987, I’m smack-dab in the middle… and I think it’s time for those of us on the older end of the Millennial spectrum to finally admit the truth: There’s no going back — we aren’t kids anymore.

But here’s the thing: We don’t need to be so afraid of growing up. In fact, it just might be the case that there is learning, fun, passion, and exploration to be found even in the realm of adulthood (!). I’m about to share a list of 30 things I’ve learned over the past 30 years, and if by the end of this list I haven’t convinced you that getting older can be awesome, I haven’t done my job. Some things I will elaborate on, while others speak for themselves so here we go:

1. Turning 30 is A Lot Less Scary Than it Sounds When You’re 25

When you finally reach 30, you kind of realize that you don’t look or feel that much different than you did when you were 25. And the things that have changed are usually positives… Like, you’re less willing to spend money at shitty bars that aren’t really that fun.

2. The Biological Clock is Actually A Thing

A lot of feminists these days argue that the “biological clock” doesn’t exist, and that it’s a social construct. As a feminist, I disagree. For women who’ve never had an inkling to have children, it may not exist, but for those of us who’ve ever expressed even remote interest in reproducing, the reality is that we do have a time frame to deal with — and for me, the awareness of that time frame started to kick in sometime around age 28.

Listen, I have a lot of things I’d like to do before having a child. But the fact of the matter is, it’s going to have to factor into my plans at some point in the next decade or so. And admitting that it’s a factor is nothing to be ashamed of, nor does it make me less of an empowered woman.

3. A Lot Can Happen in Five Years

Who knows where on earth I’ll be in five years? My life is vastly different now from my situation five years ago. A lot can happen in five years, and you never know what’s around the corner.

4. The Best Things in Life Happen Outside Your Comfort Zone

Cliche, but true. If something is making your heart race in a state of exhilarating fear, it’s something you definitely need to do.

5. You Haven’t Lived Until You’ve Seen Arcade Fire Live

Talk about exhilarating.

6. Making a True, Lifelong Friend is A Lot Harder than Falling in Love

7. If You Have a Sense of Adventure, Adventure Will Find You

I used to worry deeply that I was going to live a boring life. The fact of the matter is, if you crave adventure, it’s going to find you… Primarily because if you truly have a sense of adventure, it’s in your DNA to seek it out. Trust that you’re on the right path.

8. America’s National Parks Are Not Overrated

9. Love is Worth Getting Hurt Over

10. It is Really Is Possible to Find Both Passion and Stability in a Partner

Sometimes, we get hurt. But sometimes, we find exactly the right fit.

11. With the Right Partner, Disagreements of Opinion Are Not Incompatibilities

I consider myself to be in a very happy relationship, but it definitely hasn’t been a straight line getting here. Being with a truly compatible partner doesn’t mean that you’ll have the same philosophies on every topic, or even comparable life stories or hobbies. With the right person, differences make the relationship exciting, and because you both mutually support each other’s deepest dreams and desires, differences of opinion don’t manifest in arguments or problems going through life together. There’s too much support there for that to ever happen.

12. Lasting Love Brings Out the Best Qualities in Each Person

While I’m on the relationship topic, the cliche is true that real love makes you a better person. God knows I’m not perfect, and neither is Logan — but we really do bring out the best in each other, and have helped each other grow and evolve to become better people.

13. Buying Things You Don’t Need Won’t Make You Happy or More Confident

14. Your Family is Your True Tribe

15. People’s Perspectives are Vastly Different, and that Doesn’t Make them Bad People

People today lack a real ability to sympathize with others’ situations. It’s difficult to imagine, but poor people in inner cities have very different lives from blue collar folks in rural towns, who have very different struggles from Millennials in hip urban enclaves, whose paradigms are completely different from religious families in the South. And here’s the big secret: None of these groups of people are evil. They’re just people. They have different backgrounds that have caused different pains in their lives, and those pains (as well as positive experiences) cause them to have different outlooks. The sooner we can all learn to sympathize with each other, the better.

16. You Are Not Your Thoughts

Read “The Power of Now” and you’ll know what I’m talking about. I’m not kidding: This book literally changed my life.

17. Healthy Eating and Exercise Truly Do Make the Difference to How You Feel

18. Every Day Begins and Ends in the Same Way

Even if you were to suddenly obtain your ideal job, partner, net worth, or locale, every day would still begin and end the same way. The sun would still rise in the morning, a certain amount of time would pass, and then it would set. Days are all essentially the same… Realizing this (and acknowledging that we have a finite number of days to enjoy) helps me put my wanderlust into perspective, especially when I’m feeling “grass is always greener” syndrome.

19. If You Really Want to Party, You Need to Go to Rio de Janeiro for Carnaval

20. Waste is Morally Wrong

The ocean is brimming with plastic garbage. Landfills are overflowing. I have no patience for anyone who doesn’t recycle, leaves lights on when they’re not needed, buys disposable plastic bottles on a regular basis, or drives solo instead of carpooling.

21. It’s Best to Walk As Much as Possible

Speaking of not being wasteful, walk everywhere! Your health will thank you and so will your wallet (and the environment).

22. Health Care Is Unnecessarily Expensive in the United States

I have traveled a great deal and have friends in a ton of different countries that have some form of public health care. They do not experience substandard medical care.

23. The Wellness Community Are the Some of the Most Anxious People on the Planet

I’m in the wellness industry, and while some people really do live their best lives, a lot of people that seem to be wellness gurus actually suffer from anxiety, eating disorders, and other mental health issues. That’s why we gravitate toward wellness solutions. Don’t believe everything you see on the Internet — no one is perfect (or happy all the time!).

24. Over the Course of Your Life, You Will Accumulate Permanent Scars

Not talking about the physical kind.

25. Relationships Are Hard…But Not in the Way You Think

I’m not here to say that relationships don’t require nurturing, empathy and forgiveness. They do, but some people will tell you that “relationships are hard” when you’re actually just in a bad relationship. Learn to be happy being single so that you never stay in a relationship that makes you unhappy out of fear of being alone.

26. Not Everyone is Designed for a Typical Life Path…and the Odds Are Stacked Against Us

Sad but true… It is NOT easy, financially or otherwise, to live a non-traditional, anti 9-to-5 kind of life. I’m still working on figuring it out, and when I learn the secret, I’ll let you know.

27. Yoga Gets You Out of Your Head and Into the Present Moment

28. You and Only You Are in Control of Your Life

29. Exposing Yourself to New Things Will Keep You Young and Mentally Healthy

Obviously, at 30, I’m not talking about cognitive decline here (though studies show that new experiences help seniors maintain flexible neurological pathways, so there’s that). I already have friends who look at people who are 22 or 23 — literally less than 10 years younger than them — and complain about the “youth” of America, their music, their fashions… And I think it does my friends more harm than good. Learn to embrace new things and don’t get stuck in rigid thinking.

30. You Can’t Run Away from Yourself

Fellow wanderlusters, listen up: No matter where you are in the world, YOU will still be there. Only by making peace with yourself will you be able to enjoy your life and your surroundings, wherever you may be.

Cheers to 10 more interesting, exciting and adventurous years!


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